Maybe it’s a good thing GOP US Senate candidate Wendy Long isn’t here in Tampa.

If she had decided to attend the national convention rather than stay home in New York to focus on her long shot attempt to unseat Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, she probably would have been at the delegation breakfasts here in Clearwater.

If so, she would have heard former Sen. Alfonse D’Amato’s glaring omission of her campaign while discussing his own come-from-behind 1980 primary win against sitting GOP Sen. Jacob Javits.

She also probably would have been in the room for House Speaker John Boehner’s speech this morning, during which he spoke of the challenges in for House GOP candidates in 53 “orphan districts” – districts where the presidential campaign won’t be active and there’s “no significant Senate race underway.”

According to Boehner, 18 of the 53 districts are located in Illinois, California and…you guessed it! New York.

In other words: The fact that Long’s chances at unseating Gillibrand are so slim (she’s vastly underfunded and trailing badly in the polls among the few voters who even know who she is), that it makes things harder for her fellow Republicans running in competitive down-ballot congressional races.


Nevertheless, Boehner insisted that the Democrats who are “licking their chops” in anticipation of defeating the GOP New York freshmen who won in the 2010 midterms have “another think coming.”

“In addition to the four of five incumbents running for re-election, we’ve got four more candidates – wether it’s up in Buffalo, up the Rochester, on the east end of Long Island – we’ve got candidates who can win,” the speaker continued.

Republicans won more House seats in New York in 2010 – six – than anywhere else in the country.

There are actually more than five incumbents seeking re-election this year: Reps. Nan Hayworth, Chris Gibson, Ann Marie Buerkle, Richard Hanna, Tom Reed and Michael Grimm.

I’m not sure who Boehner was leaving off his list, or even if he meant to do that. We didn’t get a chance to ask him anything because he left without taking questions.

The incumbent not seeking re-election is Rep. Bob Turner, who wasn’t elected in the 2010 midterms, but won a special election in 2011 for ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner’s seat.

The challengers are: Randy Altschuler (vs. Rep. Tim Bishop), Matt Doheny (vs. Rep. Bill Owens), Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks (vs. Louise Slaughter) and former Erie County Executive Chris Collins (vs. Rep. Kathy Hochul).

Boehner also revealed there are 10 “victory centers” up and running across New York to help the state GOP with GOTV efforts.

The speaker spent much of the rest of his speech touting Mitt Romney and his selection of Rep. Paul Ryan as his VP running mate.

(He also made an obligatory joke about Weiner, who was none too popular with the Republicans when he was in office, riffing off the frequent mispronunciation of his own name as “boner” and adding: “At least it’s not Weiner.” Big applause, laughs from the crowd).

Boehner was especially enthusiastic about Ryan, whom he said worked on Boehner’s first congressional campaign 22 years ago – “a primary I couldn’t win” – as a 23-year-old college student whose big responsibility was to put up yard signs.

Boehner called Ryan a “great choice” for Romney because he put the GOP on the “offensive” on tough issues like Medicare, and said the two of them have “a very serious relationship” with good chemistry.

“I think this team, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are exactly what the American people are lookimg for,” the speaker said.

“…the president is going to try to make this election about anything other than the economy. But you know, the American people vote with their wallets.”